But my heart is a valley, it’s so shallow and man made
I’m scared to death if I let you in that you’ll see I’m just a fake
Sometimes I feel lonely in the arms of your touch
But I know that’s just me, ’cause nothing ever is enough
When I was a child I grew up by the River Lea
There was something in the water, now that something’s in me
River Lea by Adele
As I was on my way home, I popped on some Adele. I was in my feelings, and Adele always makes things make sense. Really, if I need some logic in my life, I turn to Adele. Anyways, the lyrics above, the beginning to the song River Lea, really spoke to how I was feeling. Well, I guess before I get into the meat of the blog, let me describe to you my thought process on my drive home:
Six months ago, I wrote 7 Reasons Why You Should Remain Single. If you haven’t read it, I’ll make a long story short. In that post I highlighted some reasons that being single can help you, really me, grow and heal. Some of the ideas I talked about were based on conversations with friends, and others were things I had been feeling that I needed in my single life.
I didn’t necessarily like being single, but it did provide me with a lot of space and freedom to heal, explore, etc. Truly, it was a blessing in disguise. I healed parts of myself that I knew were wounded, and parts of myself that I had no idea were so broken. However (this is getting to what I was thinking in the car) being single can only allow you to heal so much, especially when you are single and isolated. Yes, I had time to think. I had time to do the things I loved. I had time to write a damn book! But, little did I know, there were things that I had not known were wounded, that manifest themselves only when I am dating or in a relationship. Honestly, up until now, I hadn’t even know the difference between the two terms.
There are insecurities that I have, that I am sure many of you also have, that only rear their ugly heads when you are dating someone. Things like: feeling like you are not seen, communication triggers, boundaries, etc. Being single allows you to selfishly pour into yourself and your friendships, and do the internal work that needs to be done. But, there are several things that we need to remember when we start dating again, because quite frankly, the internal work that needs to be done in a relationship or courtship, when you cannot and should not control the person you are with, is a lot harder than doing the internal work when you are single.
- Continue to take time for yourself
It is important that you continue to make time for yourself and for your own ideas. Give yourself space when you need it. Hell, give yourself space even if you don’t. As you continue the personal internal work, coupled with taking time for yourself, you maintain your own identity and are not lost in the person that you are dating. Continue to do the things you love. Read, write, travel, hang out, LIVE. Do all the things that make you, you. In fact, do them harder. You have a lot to offer, I am sure of it. And if you lose yourself, or stop being you, then…well, whats the point? You’re not dating to conform, remember that. You’re dating to build.
- DON’T make the other person your sole priority (this is mom’s advice)
When you start dating again, it is easy to fall into the “fairytale”. Everyone, including myself, puts their best foot forward, and everything seems perfect. Social media and Disney movies tell us what dating is supposed to look like. As we know, perfection is not a thing. Related to the first point, don’t get too caught up. Personally, not being clear on dating versus being in a relationship, I’ve had a tendency to put the people on pedestals. Literally, its like “okay I like you so I must be available all the time and say yes even when I don’t want to”. I’ve consumed and expected to be consumed (TOXIC, I KNOW). Dating (courtship) is a trial run to see if you want to be with someone, not the time to go all in and lose yourself. Don’t make yourself too available. That’s not healthy for you, and to honest, it’s a little boring.
This is something I am still working on, so bare with me here. But when you start dating again it is important to communicate expectations, boundaries, feelings, etc. This seems a bit weird at times because it’s like, you are trying to get to know some one and the typical “I am getting to know you” conversations happen for the first little while. But in communicating expectations, boundaries, and feelings from the jump, this decreases room for assumptions and confusion. I tend to under-communicated when in a relationship or courtship (again, these terms are blurred lines tot me) because I have never felt like my feelings or boundaries were valid. I didn’t do the work in years prior when I was single, so I didn’t establish healthy relationship or courtship boundaries for myself or others. This led to more insecurities within my relationships and courtships. Communicating builds trust, helps mitigate prior insecurities, and like, it’s healthy and comforting.
Continuously, it is also important to communicate with yourself as well. Again, insecurities that we didn’t know were there can arise when we start dating again. Something your partner does may trigger something inside you. Instead of lashing out, pushing away, or even drawing too close, communicate with yourself. Why do you feel the way you feel? Is this like something that has happened in the past, so you are projecting it onto this new partner? Do you feel uneasy because you have made your new mate a priority and you don’t think they feel the same? Ask yourself and reason with all these questions. Genuinely, sometimes, we create problems in our heads because we compare, we expect, or we fantasize. This goes back to continuing to do the internal healing work while you are in a relationship or courtship as well. This work is extremely important because now you have the energy and unpredictability of another person.
- Leverage your friendships
Don’t be that person that starts dating someone and then cuts off their friends. This goes back to not making the person you are with a sole priority and making time for yourself. Set dates with your friends. Pour into each other. Love them the same way, if not more, than you would if you were single. Personally, I have some friends that are amazing. They’ve aided my healing, and of course, they are fun, dope, creatives in their own rights. Everyone needs friendships outside of their relationship/dating life. Friendships are relationships in themselves and need to be nourished. Don’t put them in a drought when you start dating again. Carolyn, Bree, Lauren, if you are reading this, I love you ❤
- Don’t tell all your damn business
Regardless of who your friend are and how your friendships are, everyone has differing opinions on things. Some things that you may tolerate, a friend or someone you are chatting to may not feel the same way. And vice versa. When you let too many opinions in, when you spread your business across multiple people who are outside of your relationship or courtship, you cloud your mind. I’ve learned this the hard way, but would often end up second guessing myself and making decisions (or not) that weren’t really my own because I was letting too many opinions in on a relationship that only I knew first hand. Of course, if you talk to your parents or your best friend or those one or two people that you confide in, fine. But getting input from 6,7, 8 people, is a drag and will have you more stressed out than you would be if you kept it to yourself in the first place.
Whether you have just started dating or are dating after a heartbreak/breakup, these things are constantly important to maintain a healthy personal life. You matter so much, and your partner is going to appreciate you maintaining who you are. You matter. You are loved. Go out and date. Nourish your new courtship or relationship. But, don’t forget to nourish yourself.
Growth, Positivity, & All the things,
P.S If you want to learn more about the healing work I have done during the last year, specifically during the last 8 months, check out my book, Do the Work: Let’s Heal